Shawn Richards – People’s Action Movement
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
People’s Action Movement
August 21, 2011
It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the fifth violent murder in St. Kitts in six days, bringing the tally to 27 homicides in the federation in 8 months. I wish to extend my heartfelt sympathies to all those who have been affected by these acts.
Violent crime in this country has now reached a critical stage; if we continue to ignore this, it will precipitate a state of crisis. It is fairly obvious to even the disinterested observer that some of our communities have degenerated into anarchy and barbarism. This is utterly unacceptable.
Across SKN there are pervasive undertones of hopelessness, dread and menace as law-abiding Kittitians can no longer feel safe either in their homes or on the streets with good reason. Persons are being gunned down in the safety of their homes. Murders are taking place both during the day and in the night in public places. Just Sunday morning we had a murder in the vicinity of Caribbean Cinemas. Quite often this is where movie goers wait to catch a bus or on transportation. One young man was gunned down in the road while he and others were on his way from a football game. We had a murder earlier in a play park, and also one in the vicinity of a community centre some time back. Nowhere in this Federation is safe and even the places where we expect our youth to be safe and engage in wholesome activities are now becoming crime scenes. It is time to take back our homes, streets and public places from criminals and to protect our citizens.
Crime could not have escalated at a worse time; indubitably there is a clear and direct link between these kinds of violent crimes against the person and economic hardship. When people feel that they have a stake in their economy, when they are afforded better life chances, when they can contribute meaningfully to their communities through legal mechanisms; they do not turn to mayhem and murder. Persons are taking justice into their own hands and if this trend continues it will only get worse. We have made monies available from the SDIF program to a few companies/institutions. It is time to make some of these resources available to National Security.
SKN is groaning in agony as an impotent administration whose limited ability to formulate any efficacious strategies to address the burgeoning crime has been neatly hamstrung by an ineffective and uncaring political administration. The prime minister has already informed us that these incidents are done by “˜lawless youths’, the sheer banality of such an idea is of course absurd. That is should not only be espoused by, but publicly expressed by a leader of a country is beyond belief and yet another regrettable instance of the trivialisation of aberrant behaviour. In order to reverse this situation, the government needs to accept that these are not random and isolated incidents but a part of an ominous pattern that is becoming entrenched in Kittitian society.
If continued unchecked, this can affect our relations with the rest of the world. St. Kitts has a small open economy that is largely dependent on tourism, and therefore vulnerable to the qualms and caprice of tourists. Fear of crime is leading larger and larger numbers of tourists who visit our shores to cower in their cruise ships, or make only furtive trips to the Port. This is making the situation for our people worse as the profits from tourism dwindle, and hope diminishes with them. One would have thought that our government would be interested in finding some remedy; this is not the time for jaunts abroad on holiday. It is time for all of us to come together and remedy the problem. Numerous suggestions have been offered to the government but they are not being acted upon. However, it is clear that the government’s attempt to act alone is not working. The mayhem taking place is clearly beyond their capacity.
There needs to be a systematic attempt to identify and address the fundamental issues that underlie criminal behaviour; a considered appraisal of what multiple causes and circumstances may lead to the forming of evil intent, a moral theory of the nature of violent crime and its relation to recent social history and the current dispensation, only then can useful resolution be achieved.
The Peoples Action Movement along with myself once more urges the Government to analyze the measures outlined in our crime fighting plan and to move to implement them.